When to Use a Comma With 'Commonly'

When using “commonly” to modify a participle at the start of a sentence, add a comma after the whole introductory phrase.

We do not generally use a comma to separate the adverb “commonly” from the verb or participle it describes.

These algorithms are commonly used in business applications.

When using “commonly” to modify a participle at the start of a sentence, add a comma after the whole introductory phrase.

Commonly found in a wide range of fruits and other plants, phytochemicals may provide desirable health benefits.

1. Using ‘Commonly’ to Modify a Participle

You can use “commonly” to modify a participle (e.g., “commonly used”, “commonly accepted”, etc.). In this case, we do not use a comma to separate “commonly” from the participle it describes.

We should use commonly agreed indicators to measure current conditions.

This is a list of commonly accepted beliefs that are not supported by evidence.

However, use commas to set off nonrestrictive phrases (phrases that simply add extra information but do not define).

Lev Davidovich Bronstein, commonly known as Leon Trotsky, was a communist theorist who unsuccessfully struggled against Stalin.

When using “commonly” at the beginning of a sentence, add a comma after the whole introductory phrase.

Commonly known as biological control, this methodology will help you mitigate pests and pest effects through the use of natural enemies.

But do not use a comma if a verb immediately follows the introductory phrase.

Commonly held beliefs and values are crucial to build a strong organizational structure.

2. Using ‘Commonly’ to Modify a Verb

As an adverb of frequency, we can use “commonly” to modify a verb.

Poor quality sleep is commonly a cause of fatigue.

We often place “commonly” near the verb it describes (after the verb to be, before the main verb, or after the first auxiliary)—with no comma.

These doctors commonly practice in both specialties.

However, we can also use “commonly” at the beginning of a sentence.

Commonly, eating too much or too little is a sign of emotional distress.

When “commonly” is describing a single word ("is" in the example above) and not a sentence as a whole, the comma after it is optional at the start of a sentence.

Commonly she would share with me her frustrations.

But there is a range of situations where you may need a comma. For example, use a comma:

  • To help clarify long or complicated sentences
  • If the introductory word is followed by a dependent clause
  • If the adverb “commonly” is followed by a question
  • When using a strong interrupter, such as “however”, after “commonly

Commonly, if the weather is cold, I stay home and read a book.

Commonly, however, I prefer using different combinations to create a powerful team.

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